Professional aging? A critical exploration of the doings of age employed by contemporary Swedish professionals

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning; Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: This thesis departs from a problematization of how and why certain age categories implicitly are associated with 'trouble' and aims to contribute to the current body of research on ages and aging in professional and working life. This is done through the adoption of a critical epistemology and a moderately constructionist ontology that allow for questioning and unpacking of taken-for-granted assumptions on age. Such unpacking is achieved by answering the research question: How is age done in accounts of professional life? Thus, drawing on a qualitative empirical study where 21 Swedish professionals - of different genders and chronological ages, working in nine different organizations - accounted for their working lives in thematic interviews, the study employs critical discourse analysis incorporating the notion of subject positioning in its aim to unpack what otherwise might pass as 'natural'. Leveraging the concept of chrononormativity, the analysis shows that the interviewed professionals do age within and through a developmental discourse on career, a discourse on maturity and a (gendering) discourse on competence. Although the participants also drew on a critical discourse recognizing chronological norms, they were still not able to resist them. In conclusion, it is argued that the doings of age are characterized by constrained agency; the participants mostly did their age when they found themselves interpellated into subject positions deviating from the 'ageless' norm.

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